Social Distancing as Spirituality

Everyone on the planet is in the same situation just now: Trying to avoid Coronavirus/COVID-19. We’ve adjusted our usual behaviors accordingly. Surely that’s an opportunity for us to reflect on some spiritual ideas. The last time that the “We’re experiencing the same thing all over the world, at the same time” phenom happened, Jews were leaving Egyptian slavery. Water split all over the globe, and Jews went forward into a far better future. The rest of the nations were awed by Ha Kadosh Barukh Hu’s power. Nobody disputed the Jewish agenda: Bring Kedusha into the World.

But before the waters split, we’d had to adjust our usual behaviors several times over: Tie lambs to the furniture. Smear blood on doorposts. Stop fearing what goyim will say or do. Follow those and lots of other instructions Exactly as Given.

Fast forward to the Ketoret tefila that many Jews recite fervently these days: One missing item and there’s a serious problem. Something extra? Not happening. Follow instructions.

Tuma? Tahara? Do this right or get that wrong. You get the idea.

HKBH has asked us to change our behaviors many times in history. This. Is. Another.

We’ve been self-quarantined for about two weeks. Some of us are tuning in to shiurim, reading more sefarim, praying harder and more often. Meditation helps. I recommend this method.

Social Distancing for Spirituality is what seems to be going on. Israelis who obeyed Health Ministry guidelines didn’t meet for minyan this past Shabbat, nor after that, either. Many Jews worldwide prayed at home, too. Rabanim have insisted that the health guidelines in these Coronavirus Days be regarded as halakha.

Humor, music, and other things might be helping various individuals to cope with the fear and loneliness, let alone The Unknown. I operate a food-oriented Facebook page. I’ve been advising my readers to use the extra time to prepare for Pesakh. Heading into the Festival of Spiritual Freedom under these conditions gives me, and many of my readers, pause.


We can choose to see COVID-19 isolation as an opportunity for yehidut, alone time with The Creator, a chance to reflect on life – specifically our own and all the choices that we’ve made, what needs to change and why.

Isolated people have plenty of time for thinking quietly to themselves, e.g., introspection about values, priorities, morals, successes and failures.


Rukhniut is about leaping above limitations in a healthy, wholesome way be it prayer/tefila, mitzvot, meditation/hitbodedut (grammatically connected to bidud the Hebrew word for quarantine), whatever is called for in that person’s situation. Self-assessment gets us ready to launch into a new, improved Me.

The Holy Land as Your Address

What if you regret not having made aliya, yet? GOOD NEWS: We’re waiting for you with open hearts and arms! Several olim arrived on Thursday March 19th. Neighbors went into action in my neighborhood, asking the parents what they needed. We created a spreadsheet. ALL needs were met by 1:00PM Friday, right down to fresh face and bath towels for the whole family. They were purposely mismatched so that kids and parents could remember which ones are “theirs.”

That Only in Israel scenario likely happened across the Israeli map. It can happen to you, too.

I believe in MIRACLES and that HKBH wants a happy ending to the story even for Jews outside Israel. Get ready for the trip; I suggest that you Pack a GO Bag – something that reporters use when they must dash to cover some breaking story. Pack one to help that miracle along.

Go Bags hold

• undies,
• toothpaste,
• toothbrush,
• soap,
• shampoo,
• comb/hairbrush,
• necessary medications, and
• energy bars.
• fresh clothes

Jewish reporters tend to add a siddur, sefer tehilim, and cellphone. If you own one, include your Israeli cellphone, and whatever else you wish to add – if there’s space for it. FILL that bag!

Keep your Go Bag near the door. Honest, you won’t have time to search for it if you need to run. The Chofetz Chaim had such a bag, according to rumors.

How will you reach Israel now that the borders are shut? I won’t be surprised if the IDF does emergency airlifts after Jew-hatred breaks open, vicious and violent across the world. It will. Jew-haters are afraid of Coronavirus and they’re looking for scapegoats. JEWISH scapegoats. Really.

PACK your Go-Bag already. Expect miracles. Who knows? Maybe you won’t need the medicines after you arrive because you’ll be healed soon, just as everyone was healthy for Matan Tora.

Rukhniut is about leaping above limitations in a healthy, wholesome way be it tefila, mitzvot, hitbodedut, whatever is called for in that person’s situation.

We have lots of time to re-evaluate how we live life. Make it a more meaningful Pesakh. Start now.

Upon the Death of My Father

The feelings one has upon the death of a father is not something that can be encapsulated in a single blog post. My dad, Rabbi Benjamin Shandalov (A”h), passed away on early Shabbat morning, November 23, 2019 (25 MarCheshvan 5780) in a quiet hospice room in Chicago. The purpose of …

Bring them Home – Aliya NOW!

… despite yeshiva or Hebrew school educations, 20th and 21st century Jews chose to remain in communities outside Israel. Though they studied Torah and celebrated the end of Pesakh seder with the call to return to Jerusalem, Israel’s capital, they hadn’t lived up to the words that they mouthed.

War on Religion in Maale Adumim

Wars are waged for many reasons. Sometimes for power and money. Often hatred or religion are at the core. And sometimes, as is often the case in the Middle East, it could be hatred OF religion. Ultimately, war is a harsh word and should be used with caution. Not every …

An Interview with Rav Zev Shandalov

Following is an interview I held yesterday with Rav Zev Shandalov of Maale Adumim. I decided to interview him due to the fact that he has some things he wished to share with his “audience” and asked me, Zev Shandalov, to interview him. (We have known each other all of …

Danger in the Air for American Jewry?

It’s been so long since I’ve been to the States – over 20 years. I was never one of those fly-there-every-summer types – even before my mother and father (z”l) moved here almost 18 years ago. It’s been so long, I can’t tell you if the feeling Jews have in …

Of Jew Hatred and Revisionist History

I have a lot of patience in life and am very tolerant of others, but not of hatred. While I may completely disagree with someone, he or she has the right, in my opinion, to say what they want. However, there are obvious exceptions to that idea, including hate speech …

Trying to Be Normal

First written after a terror attack in Israel in December, 2002, this article was reprinted in 2012 and is posted again now after the Sri Lanka attacks on Easter day. It is an article about the human need to find normal. And it’s about how no matter how bad the …